The new festival that’s hoping to strike a chord with music fans

The new festival that’s hoping to strike a chord with music fans

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Insane Society

This Bank Holiday weekend Castle Street in Tunbridge Wells is hosting a series of concerts put on by local musicians to raise money for the Hospice in the Weald. Here, its organiser, Zoe Rolandsen, tells the Times why the Castle Street Festival has been revived after a hiatus of 20 years, and why it will complement Local & Live – the town’s other key music festival happening this weekend

“The idea behind the Castle Street Festival originally came from Denny Rowe, who ran the barber’s back in the 1990s and was known as the ‘fastest barber in the world’. Sadly he passed away in 2013.

His idea was to bring more life to the bottom end of the town and he certainly succeeded in doing that when he put on the first Castle Street Festival in the mid-90s and booked acts like Suzi Quatro!

The last one happened in 1999 and it wasn’t revived until now due, quite simply, to the fact that nobody wanted to take on the organisation of it all.

Cassidy's Tunbridge Wells

We at Cassidy’s Bar decided to bring it back this year as we were told we could not be a fringe venue for Paul Dunton’s Local & Live 2016 series of gigs. When the festival was staged last year it did really well for all the traders on Castle Street so, not surprisingly, quite a lot of the businesses were disappointed when they were told they couldn’t be part of it again this year.

The Velvet Goldmine
Tunbridge Wells’ own Velvet Goldmine

My personal role in the Castle Street Festival has been doing all the main organisation, but I’ve also worked closely with Tom Meyritz, who is in charge of booking all the festival’s acts, and Dan Stephens, who is responsible for the sound engineering.

Kharma & The Devil

Cassidy’s is the main hub for the festival, so I have been constantly liasing with its manager Anthony Allan and owner John Hoare, who has run the pub for nearly 20 years.

Tom has selected a variety of bands to perform over the Bank Holiday weekend and they include every genre from acoustic to punk, so there really will be something for everyone.

The Harveys
The Harveys are Monday evening favourites, too

We have deliberately made sure the majority of our bands are local cover ones – as we always do at Cassidy’s in order not to step on the toes of The Forum and The Grey Lady.

We really hope that instead of competing with it, Castle Street Festival will actually complement Local & Live, and if Paul Dunton manages to bring it back bigger and better next year then we’d love to be able to work together again.

Castle Street Festival

All the Castle Street Festival concerts happening over the weekend will be free to attend, but as the whole event is a fundraiser for Hospice in the Weald we would really appreciate it if people could pop a contribution into the collection buckets upon entering the street.

If it’s a success then we have every intention of bringing Castle Street Festival back next year, and hopefully for many years to come.”

For more information on the Castle Street Festival visit